Value-driven attentional priority signals in human basal ganglia and visual cortex

Brain Res. 2014 Oct 31;1587:88-96. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.08.062. Epub 2014 Aug 27.


Goal-directed and stimulus-driven factors determine attentional priority through a well defined dorsal frontal-parietal and ventral temporal-parietal network of brain regions, respectively. Recent evidence demonstrates that reward-related stimuli also have high attentional priority, independent of their physical salience and goal-relevance. The neural mechanisms underlying such value-driven attentional control are unknown. Using human functional magnetic resonance imaging, we demonstrate that the tail of the caudate nucleus and extrastriate visual cortex respond preferentially to task-irrelevant but previously reward-associated objects, providing an attentional priority signal that is sensitive to reward history. The caudate tail has not been implicated in the control of goal-directed or stimulus-driven attention, but is well suited to mediate the value-driven control of attention. Our findings reveal the neural basis of value-based attentional priority.

Keywords: Attentional capture; Basal ganglia; Reward learning; Selective attention; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Caudate Nucleus / physiology
  • Echo-Planar Imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Reward*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Young Adult